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The Ultimate Iceland Travel Guide

  • Post last modified:May 9, 2024
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Want to plan your trip to Iceland without having to read a million blogs? Well, our ultimate Iceland Travel Guide is here to cover all the bases!


I've visited Iceland twice, and it's really one of those countries you don't want to go unprepared to. It's a seriously stunning country, and has so many incredible landscapes and activities to experience!


In our Iceland travel guide we're going to share the best places to visit, cool places to stay, how to get around, and so much more. Let's explore!

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Where is Iceland Located?

Iceland is an island country located in between the Greenland Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It's situated north west of the mainland of Europe, and in the sea between Greenland and Norway.


Iceland Travel Guide: How to Get to Iceland

In order to reach Iceland, you can either fly there, or you can take a variety of cruises that make stops in Iceland.


Where Do You Fly Into for Iceland?

The most popular airport to fly into to reach Iceland is the international airport in Keflavik, which is just 50 km south west down the coast from Iceland's capital city.


Can You Fly Direct to Iceland from the USA?

There are quite a few cities that fly direct from the USA to Iceland! The US cities that fly direct to Iceland include Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Raleigh, Seattle, and Washington. 


Other cities that fly to Keflavik include Aalborg, Alicante, Amsterdam, Avignon, Barcelona, Belfast, Berlin, Billund, Budapest, Cascais, Cologne, Comox, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Edmonton, Frankfurt, Gander, Gdansk, Glasgow, Goose Bay, Hamilton, Helsinki, Kulusuk, Liege, London, Malaga, Manchester, Milan, Munich, Narsarsuaq, Nuuk, Oslo, Paris, Porto, Prague, Riga, Rome, Rotterdam, Sigonella, Stockholm, Tenerife, Toronto, Vagar, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zurich.

 

There are also a few cities that fly to Akureyri direct, which are Nerlerit Inaat, Nuuk, Oslo, and Prague.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can try out the calendar feature to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Iceland.


Cruises to Iceland

There are a lot of small luxury and expedition cruises that sail around Iceland in the summer months. The bigger cruise lines also cruise to Iceland, typically during Trans-Atlantic crossings to Europe in the Spring, or back to the Caribbean from Europe in the end of the summer/early fall.


While we definitely prefer exploring Iceland on our own, a cruise is definitely a cool way to include Iceland in your travels if you like cruising.


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Iceland Travel Guide: Entry Requirements for Traveling to Iceland

A key part of traveling anywhere is making sure you have the right documentation to enter in that particular country. The next part of our Iceland travel guide is going to cover what you need to enter inside the country as a foreigner.


What Documents Do I Need to Go to Iceland?

In order to visit Iceland, a valid passport is needed. Europeans that are part of the Schengen Zone have free travel to Iceland, while those outside the Schengen Zone need to abide by the 90/180 rule.


The 90/180 Rule

The 90/180 rule states that all people coming from countries from the Schengen Zone have free travel amongst one another. Tourists (those not from the Schengen Zone) can visit a total of 90 days within 180 days. This is important to know, because if you travel to other countries which are inside the Schengen Zone before Iceland, you will need to subtract those days of travel allowance.


For example: you are coming from Europe, where you spent 75 days traveling through PortugalSpain, and Italy (which are all in the Schengen Zone). Now only have 15 days left in the Schengen Zone, or days that you could stay in Iceland. After leaving the country, if you have used all 90 of these days, you will then have to spend 90 days outside of all Schengen countries before being able to re-enter.


We spend a lot of time in Europe each year, so we always make sure to use the Schengen Visa Calculator to know we are staying within the allowed time period. (It is a serious offense if you even spend 91 days within the 180-day period, so it's important that you make sure to stay in compliance).


Do US Citizens Need a Visa for Iceland?

US Citizens can visit the Schengen Zone visa-free for a period of up to 90 days with a 180-day period, so they won't need a special visa for Iceland unless they have exhausted their 90 days in Europe.


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Iceland Travel Guide: Local Adjustments for Visiting Iceland

One of the parts of our Iceland travel guide (or any travel guide we write) includes some of the basics you should know before you go. These include the country's language, currency, tipping culture, and more important details for visiting.


What Language is Mostly Spoken in Iceland?

The official language in Iceland is Icelandic. Be prepared for a lot of very long words and names that you'll probably have a lot of difficulty sounding out! Icelandic is a hard language, and we really were only able to pick up a few words along our travels.


Do They Speak English in Iceland?

You won't need to worry about Icelandic being a difficult language because the level of English is excellent in Iceland.


Not only do the locals learn English in school, but there are also many people from all around Europe that come to Iceland to work for the summer, and they all have to have a decent level of English to get a job.


What is the Currency Used in Iceland?

The currency used in Iceland is the Icelandic Krona. Currently (May 2024) 1 USD is around 140 ISK, 1 euro is around 150 ISK, and 1 pound is around 174.8 ISK. Everywhere accepts credit cards, so you won't need to carry any cash on you at all.


What Plug Adapter Do I Need for Iceland?

Iceland uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C & F. The standard voltage in Iceland is 230 V with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


Can I Drink the Tap Water in Iceland?

The water in Iceland is some of the cleanest in the world! In fact, not only can you drink right from the tap, but you can also drink right from the waterfalls or glaciers!


We brought a Steripen with us to ensure the water was safe to drink as an extra measure, but it's typically not super necessary.


Do You Tip in Iceland?

Iceland is very much different than the US, as the service industry is not based on tipping. Tipping is not expected, but certainly appreciated, so if someone happens to give great service, you can give a tip of up to 10%.

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Iceland Travel Guide: The Best Places to Visit in Iceland

Now that you know the basics of our Iceland travel guide, here are the best places to visit in Iceland.


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Iceland travel guide pin

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland, and the most populated area of the country. While it's by no means a massive city, it has plenty of restaurants, shops, and cute streets to explore. Our favorite spots are the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church and the colorful rainbow road.


church in Reykjavik, Iceland travel guide
rainbow road in Reykjavik, Iceland travel guide


Reykjanes Peninsula

This is where the famous Blue Lagoon is located, as well as the international airport. But there is much more to the Reykjanes Peninsula, and most of it gets overlooked.


Check out the colorful geothermal springs, the cute black churches, and the stunning cliffs with massive waves crashing down next to them. Reykjanes is also home to the Fagradalsfjall volcano that erupted violently a few years ago.


black church, reykjanes, Iceland travel guide
geothermal springs, Iceland travel guide
Blue Lagoon, Island travel guide



The Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is the most iconic tourist area of Iceland, and is a popular day trip from Reykjavik.


This is the most maintained area of the country, and easy to explore by car or tour.


Some of the highlights of the Golden Circle include Gulfoss waterfall, Kerid crater, Thingvellir Park, Geyser geothermal area, and the Fridheimar Tomato Farm.


geyser at the Golden Circle, Iceland travel guide
Kerid crater, golden circle
Gulfoss, golden circle in Iceland


Southern Iceland

Southern Iceland is one of the most beloved regions in Iceland, especially for photographers.


Black sand beaches, basalt columns, impressive glaciers, beautiful waterfalls, and vast lupine field are just some of the characteristics that make southern Iceland so special.


Some of the must-see attractions in southern Iceland include the town of Vik, Reynisfjara Beach, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, diamond beach, Jokulsarlon, and the abandoned airplane.


Iceland travel guide
basalt columns, Iceland travel guide
airplane, Iceland travel guide


The West Fjords

This is one of the most underrated areas of Iceland, and is known for its dramatic cliffs and puffins. With turquoise waters, volcanoes, and a giant set of waterfalls, the raw nature of the West Fjords make it one of our favorite regions.


Westfjords. Iceland travel guide
Westfjords. Iceland travel guide
Westfjords. Iceland travel guide

The Westfjords have beautiful turquoise waters.


East Iceland

The east of Iceland is definitely the furthest point from Reykjavik, and a lot of tourists don't end up making it over there! However, we highly suggest doing a road trip in Iceland and making it over there, because some of our favorite locations are in the east of Iceland.


A few of the top highlights for us are Studagil Canyon, Hengifoss Waterfall, and the adorable town of Seydisfjordur.


Studagil Canyon, Island travel guide
rainbow road in the east of Iceland
Hengifoss waterfall, the best waterfalls in Iceland


Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Located on the west of Iceland between Reykjavik and the West Fjords, the Snaefellsnes peninsula is one of the lesser-visited areas of Iceland, but is home to some really beautiful nature.


Some of our favorite spots that you can find here are the iconic Kirkjufell, the cliffs of Hellnar, golden sand beaches, lava fields, a bright yellow lighthouse, and a cute black church.


black church, Iceland travel guide
 Iceland travel guide
lava fields, Iceland travel guide


Akureyri

This is the second largest city in Iceland, and is the main hub for exploring the north of the country. Some of the highlights Akureyri are the amazing thermal baths, breweries, and even a mix of both- a beer spa!

Akureyri Iceland

The Highlands

When it comes to mind-blowing landscapes, the highlands are certainly the top of the list.


Located in inland Iceland, this area of the country can only be accessed in the summer by some pretty rough roads.


Some of the highlights of the highlands are the massive rainbow colored mountains, sprawling geothermal springs, and some of the most impressive waterfalls in Iceland.

iceland, ways to be a more eco-friendly traveler

The Westman Islands

If you're looking for a great off-the-beaten path adventure, then the Westman Islands are the perfect place to explore.


We love the Westman Islands for their unique lush green islands surrounding the main island with tiny hunting huts on them, the elephant shaped rock, an iconic black church, and the beautiful rainbow soil of the volcanos there.

Westman Islands, Iceland travel guide
black church on the Westman Islands of Iceland